The Curious Trend of Declining Student Attendance in College Football: I was at a college football game in the MAC last week. It was the team’s homecoming and they were playing a hated rival, yet the stands were empty. Granted, there was supposed to be and eventually was a huge rain storm, but I was surprised nonetheless. This trend of empty stadiums seems to extend beyond the MAC into other conferences including the SEC. Given all the talk of the money in college football (justified), you'd never know that nearly 40% of the seats in the Georgia Bulldogs student section were left open over the last four seasons. During the same time, Alabama left 32% of their student section seats unused while winning three national championships. Even The Ohio State left 26% of the student section vacant last year. What is going on?
This emptying of stadiums is occurring in even the nations proudest football traditions. It has been attributed to poor cellphone reception within the stadiums, convenience of watching the game next to a keg of beer and a flat screen TV, or a desire to watch other games playing throughout the day. In the SEC, alcohol sales are banned to the public, so some students report preferring to watch in a bar or at home while multitasking, because they just have better things to do. There is nothing like being in a packed college football stadium, the energy contained within it could power the world for an afternoon. Athletic departments around the country are hiring researchers and consultants to identify why students aren't coming and how to get them back in the stands. Fans are fundamental to the sport of college football and are a huge advantage for home teams in close games. I'm not sure what the solution is, but I really hope someone finds figures it out. It probably won't be me though, I've got a date with my couch, flatscreen, and a beautiful IPA to watch college football all day.